Ask a Delegate | Part 4

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How has preparing for this General Conference been different than the previous General Conference in 2016?

Because we are completely in “uncharted waters” with this “Called Session,” there has a been a real sense of bewilderment and speculation about it all. Yes, we have been assured that the THREE PLANS will be presented, but we don’t know in what form the THREE PLANS will be presented, or in what order, or how the legislative process will be determined. Additionally, there are other motions (78, I think?) relative to the issue that must be considered. How will they be dealt with and when? And once “a plan” is presented, it will be subject to amendment and even substitute motions. All of this augers painfully for very lengthy and difficult sessions and a parliamentary quagmire. Therefore, PRAY. PRAY. PRAY. We will need it!

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How many votes does a plan need to pass?

50% plus one of delegates present and voting, except for constitutional amendments which require a 2/3 approval.

If a plan passes, does it have to go to the Judicial Council for approval?

The Judicial Council can only review the constitutionality of an act of the General Conference upon an appeal of a majority of the Council of Bishops or one-fifth of the members of General Conference. I believe it to be highly probable that any action will be appealed.

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What are some scripture passages that you have been reflecting on as you prepare to participate in General Conference 2019?

Revelation 21:1-7 reminds me that no matter how conflicted we are, no matter how poorly we manage our conflict, and no matter what happens in St. Louis, God has this! Everything is going to be ok (eventually). Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God” has become a regular reminder to me to simply slow down and trust Him.

What have been your efforts to make UMC members in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference aware of the differences in the plans being voted on?

As a member of the delegation, I participated in all four of the Listening Sessions across the NWTX Conference.These Listening Sessions gave us great insights about how the people of NWTX felt about the original plans. Additionally, we were able to capture their thoughts, based on written feedback, and create a document that was released in the Conference Connect. I was the delegate tasked with creating this document and editing the work provided by the rest of the delegation, so that it could be shared across the conference. I think these are the most important ways I have helped people in the NWTX Conference feel more knowledgeable about the Special Called Conference and the plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward.

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What can the members of our local churches do to prepare for and to participate in what happens at General Conference 2019?

Members of our local churches may pray for the delegates as we discern the will of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit. Our local church members also may read the proposed legislation and contact their conference delegates with questions and concerns as the date of the conference draws near.

What are some scripture passages that you have been reflecting on as you prepare to participate in General Conference 2019?

John 17:20-23, Romans 12:1-2, Colossians 3:12-17, Matthew 22:34-40, John 14:25-31

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If the One Church Plan is adopted, what will change in my local church?

There has been a great deal of speculation about the effect on the local church if various plans or their derivatives pass. Realistically, until we get to that point, we cannot be certain what effect any plan may have. I had the privilege of hearing Bishop Robert Schnase of the Rio Texas Conference discuss the effect of the One Church Plan on the local church in Albuquerque last year. According to Bishop Schnase, very little will change in the local church should the One Church Plan pass. Bishop Schnase pointed out the great influence the conference board of ordained ministry has in each conference. The Bishop said that the board of ministry will continue to set the requirements and qualifications for ordained clergy and candidates and thus will reflect the general theology of the conference as a whole. The Bishop's conclusion seemed to be that because the board of ministry will remain fairly consistent in it's thinking, the result will be little change for the given conference and thus little change for the local church.